There are few life changing moments, if any, that are more important than the day you marry. Standing before family and friends, you declare your love and commitment to each other, as you promise to go forth as husband and wife. On such an occasion, it’s a shame to leave all the decision making to a wedding planner (or even a parent). It’s worth the effort to make your wedding truly personal. Only you can translate your love and joy into something more than just a day that runs to schedule.
To make your wedding truly personal, start with this
A truly personal wedding day starts with both of you agreeing to participate equally. You expect life after the wedding to be a partnership, right? Well then, why should one of you spend more time and energy in preparing the occasion which brings you together? Break up the tasks: one of you researches music and printing ideas, for example, while the other looks after readings and prayers. Schedule meeting times to exchange information and make decisions.
Find someone special to solemnise your union
Most Irish couples marry in the parish of the bride’s family and one of the local ministers officiates but this general rule doesn’t necessarily have to apply. If your appointed minister is uninterested or scornful of your ideas or involvement, keep looking until you meet someone who shares your excitement and enjoys your enthusiasm for shaping your ceremony. If you know someone who you’d like to have perform the service, find out if they are available, then make arrangements with the parish where the wedding will take place to bring in someone from outside the area.
It’s worth mentioning here that if you haven’t been to church in a while, start going. There’s nothing more embarrassing for guests than a bride and groom who don’t know what to do and when.
Don’t slavishly follow tradition
Your wedding is a celebration of the love you share and as such it should reflect your individual spirit, family traditions, and heartfelt feelings. If, as the bride, you wish to have both your parents walk you down the aisle, then by all means do so. If one of you is from another country, incorporate elements from your heritage or consider using your native language. Ask your celebrant if you may write your own vows. Get creative to make your wedding truly personal.
Choose readings which mean something to you
Don’t limit yourself to passages specifically about love and marriage. Try joy, faith, family and life. In addition to scripture verse, consider poetry, lyrics from a song, or an appropriate story. Ask your clergy for his or her ideas. Look at different translations of the Bible until you discover a version you particularly like. Also, make time for the two of you to organise a booklet for the ceremony. Include poems or sayings which are important to you both, even if they are not part of the ceremony.
Write your own Bidding Prayers
Typically they are made for the benefit of the newly married couple, their parents and friends, and for the world at large but there’s no reason why you can’t shake it up a bit. If a guest at your wedding has recently given birth, then this is the perfect place to wish a life of happiness and good tidings on the baby. Similarly if a loved one has passed away, remember them during this part of the service. Saying your own words from the heart will make your wedding truly personal.
Invite family and friends to participate
There are a number of jobs which need doing, including: flower arranging; acting as bridesmaids, groomsmen, ushers, altar servers, readers or ministers of the Eucharist; reading Bidding Prayers or the wedding Readings; playing an instrument or singing; even acting as witnesses (traditionally the job of the chief bridesmaid and best man, but not necessarily so).
Use music to convey your feelings
Last, but certainly not least, if you absolutely love gospel music, hire a group to sing at your wedding. If you’re planning a traditional white wedding with all the trimmings, then an organist or string quartet are your best bet. If you plan to surround yourself with only forty of your nearest and dearest, consider a harpist or two electric guitarists – the ambience will be mellow and light.
Still aching for good advice? We have so much to say about planning, and you’ll find it all here.
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Former editor, current contributor, (she just can't let go!) Karen enjoys writing fashion but is known to dabble in decor from time to time. Her favourite section on the site is the Real Wedding section, followed closely by the Health & Fitness forums.